Tag Archive | suffering

God does not waste anything..

 

 

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I cannot remember who first told me that.. but I imagine it was over 30 years ago. I did not understand it the way I do now:) God is at work in every circumstance and will use every single experience for good. Yes, I had trouble with that one ( Romans 8:28) at first, but now.. it is very real to me. Every difficult and challenging trial I’ve experienced has been training for times when I can sit with another person and encourage them.. the reason? The more hard things you go through in life.. the more you have to offer others who are hurting. When people come to me for counseling I often say ” you really cannot shock me because of all the life experiences I have lived through” usually that turns out to be true. God does not waste anything.. He uses it all to help us understand and help others.

It feels really good to realize once again that He is always training me to be more understanding and compassionate. He is preparing me to see into the next broken heart that sits in front of me and needs healing. How does He accomplish that? I am not sure.. I do know that He stretches me and finds those places that need changing and as I agree with Him.. He begins a deeper work of transformation.. It is awesome.

I don’t know about you.. but I want the full measure of life that God has for me ( John 10:10) and I realize that often comes through trials and tests. Somehow we don’t learn as easily when things are going smoothly..in reality that is rare in the life of a Believer. No.. it is not all trials and suffering, but we are never promised an easy life here. What we do have is His promise to be with us.. His Spirit to guide us and strength for the journey.

So if things are difficult right now.. remember He is doing something deep inside your heart.. preparing you for the day when you will share what you have learned with another person.. when you will encourage someone who has a broken heart or is struggling with pain and suffering . You will become a source of life to them.. bringing hope and healing.

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim freedom for the captives
    and release from darkness for the prisoners,
 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
    and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
   and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
    instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
    instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
    a planting of the Lord
    for the display of his splendor.

This is one of my very favorite scriptures ( from Isaiah 61) Jesus read this in the temple in the book of Luke.. It describes perfectly what He came to do and what He allows us to do with Him.. Amazing!

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A Dip

We spent the weekend at a church theological retreat. Our speaker was a wonderful seminary professor, Mark Futato. He taught on the wisdom books of the Bible..Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and today at church we heard his perspective on the book of Job. All of the teaching was amazing and enlightening, but today really touched my heart.

His insights on Job were so refreshing, I’ve never heard anyone explain it so well. We often hear Job’s name and think of nothing but all the suffering he went through, but that is not the heart of the book. Job’s life started well and ended even better. He was a man who honored God and he was one who walked on the path that God prepared for him. His life was filled with blessings before the dip. When God allowed him to be tested, everything was taken away.

We hear his friends telling him to repent and we read of Job crying out in desperation to the Lord. He knew he was innocent and that he had done nothing to deserve what was happening. He had no idea why God allowed these things to happen, but he persevered..even in his confusion. Exactly what we need to do when we go into a dip.

Mark reminded us that a dip is not a dead-end. He helped us remember that we can take all of our confusion and angry emotions to the Lord and that He will not be shocked or surprised since He already knows our struggle. The one thing that we cannot do is quit..we have to continue, to persevere, and to trust that God will come for us and we will be restored the same way Job was.

So if you are in a dip.. a place of loss and stress..an unbearable situation that makes no sense and if you know that you did not stray off the path and that God has been leading you..be like Job. Be tenacious and hang on because you will receive the blessing that he received. By the end of the book he has been restored and has twice as much as he had in the beginning. He still never truly understood the reason for the dip..God did not reveal that to him, but He knew God in a deeper way than ever before.

Lord, for those of us who feel left alone in the dip, we choose to believe that you will come for us..that you have not forgotten us and like Job, we will praise your name when you pull us out. You will get the glory and we will enjoy the blessings that you bring into our lives. 

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The last chapter of Job says this…

“So the Lord blessed Job in the second half of his life even more than in the beginning. For now he had 14,000 sheep, 6,000 camels, 1,000 teams of oxen, and 1,000 female donkeys. He also gave Job seven more sons and three more daughters.”

Drive to the ocean..

That’s what we did yesterday..we drove out to the coast. There is something about being near the ocean..something magical.  When you get out of the car and walk down the path..suddenly there it is. The beautiful ocean..the waves come rolling in over and over. The sound of the breaking waves is powerful and at the same time peaceful.

The ocean reminds me of God.. He never changes.. He is beautiful. He is powerful and peaceful. He created the ocean in all its majesty..for us..I’m sure of it. He wants us to remember that He is our refuge in the storm.. that He is with us in the midst of the trials.  He is our safe place and our refuge. His loves us and we belong to Him. He stands near us with His hand of protection surrounding us no matter how difficult it is..

When I saw the ocean.. it took my breath away.. I wanted to  stay there forever just soaking in the fresh air and breathing in His peace. Wish I could go back today..Here’s a glimpse for you.

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Lessons learned..

In the midst of struggles.. He teaches us. We may not realize it at the time.. because our hearts are heavy and our emotions feel overwhelming. We wonder why things are happening.. why we are reacting. If we pray and seek Him.. He will unveil His purposes to us. He may not show us all that we want to see, but He will show us enough to encourage us in our journey.

None of us enjoy the trials and tests..we would prefer to have pain-free lives. Yet the truth is that during our darkest days..we draw near to Him..crying out for what we need to make it through. I am convinced that as we press in closer we hear Him more clearly and sense His presence more deeply. He is teaching us to depend upon Him..to turn to Him and to remember that He is our refuge.

Our lives are on a path that lead us to the heart of God. As we walk in faith, following Him..we begin to experience the sense that He is with us in all of it. Our hearts become less doubtful and we are able to seek Him in the good times as well as the hard times.. Our double mindedness disappears as we realize that He is for us..the God of the universe is with us and He is teaching us not only to trust Him but to truly know Him in all His goodness! What more could we ask?

Remember this verse… it is for you!

“The Lord your God is with you,
    the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
    in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
    but will rejoice over you with singing.”

Our Stories

I heard a powerful story last night. The man telling the story spent 5 years in San Quentin. He was sharing his story with a room full of believers..we were all amazed as he told us the details of his life and how God rescued him from a fate none of us would could even imagine having to endure.

Stories of God’s intervention are powerful reminders of God’s character. As we live out our lives..a story is unfolding. No two stories are alike. Our roads are all different. Yet the themes are often so similar. We find ourselves in desperate circumstances and we come to the end of our own ability to deal with life..we are broken. Then God moves. He knows when the time is right and He intervenes.. just like He did for the man in prison. He rescues us..sends people to help us..provides for us..heals us..restores us..renews us.. meet us at our point of need.

This is the way He teaches us about our dependence on Him. If we never felt over our heads, we would never realize that we need Him..He wants to save us over and over again. Trials and tests are part of this process. God allows these things so that we will discover His goodness..so that we will understand the depth of His love for us. Each and every circumstance is designed to bring us to the end of our own resources..to cause us to call out to Him. This is not a picture of an easy life. This is not a description of a road without twists and turns. This is the life that causes us to grow as believers and to become fully His people.

If there were no trials and we did not suffer..God would only be an idea..not a person who can move into each and every situation and bring relief and comfort and answers. He is with us. He loves us. His character is unchanging and He knows our deepest desires and needs. His ways are mysterious but they never fail. Even when we cannot hear or see Him..He never lets us go.

“I am the Lord, there is no other. I create light and make the darkness. I send good times and bad times. I, the Lord am the one who does these things.”